Type in “work from home” into Google and you’ll find hundreds of sites telling us how great it is to work from home.

Many of them say things like:

  • “I get up around 10am, get a coffee, do a bit of work, watch some TV”
  • “I work at my own pace”
  • “I have no distractions”
  • “I’m my own boss, I don’t answer to anybody”
  • “Life couldn’t be better/easier”

If you’ve ever worked from home you’ll know this is far-fetched and in reality if you work from home you’re more likely to say things like:

  • “I get up because my phone’s ringing, way before office hours”
  • “I can’t concentrate on business because my son’s home ill”
  • “There’s a pile of washing up in the sink”
  • “The house is a mess”
  • “I have no team to work with”
  • “I’m constantly distracted by anything other than work”
  • “I have trouble differentiating between work and home”
  • “I can’t work at my own pace, as I find it very difficult to plan ahead”

Working from home is usually far from the perfect dream that many people have, this is usually due to 1 major factor – focus.

When we go to work most of us find it easy to stay focused. It’s a daily routine, we know what our jobs involve and how best to perform them and aside from any work-based distractions that come along we remain focused enough to get the job done.

Separation is a major problem for the home worker. A bit like yesterdays mental dressing for the role post, there has to be some kind of obvious separation for the home worker to get over these barriers.

If you have the space in your house the best thing to do is dedicate a room to your work. This is your office and when you are in it you are at work.

Close the door. If your home phone rings, ignore it – you’re not at home. Get yourself another line for your office or use your mobile. When you are out of your office ignore this phone.

Take regular breaks and get away from your office but allocate only a limited amount of time to those breaks. When break time is over, go back in your office and close the door.

Get a separate door bell with your office clearly labelled on it. This bell should sound different so you can immediately identify an office caller.

Have a lunch break. Remember though, a benefit to working at home is potentially flexible working hours so a shorter lunch break could mean more time at the end of the day for “home” reasons such as picking the kids up from school.

Another big problem with working at home is the feeling of isolation. This feeling of loneliness can hamper productivity. If your company has a base there are many ways to stay in contact with them, from the traditional phone to more modern alternatives like Skype and MSN Messenger. Again don’t take it too far though as things like MSN can be addictive and have the opposite effect for productivity.  Regular communication is a must and there may be things that your team would be happy to do for you to help out.

A great benefit to home working is that the daily commute is very short! Think about this and use the time it would normally take to get to work within your working hours – if it takes 1 hour each way to get to the office, that’s a potential saving of 2 hours every day that would potentially be wasted.

There are some obvious distractions that nobody can avoid, things like children being off school sick or on holiday and demanding attention.  Try to tackle one thing at a time though and like I said earlier if you are part of a team seek help with some of your workload from others.

Working from home isn’t for everybody and it really is all about self-control and focus, master those and you’ll have a winner.